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Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. Thank you for reading! Some city officials want to ban public nudity without abridging freedom of expression in a town known for pushing artistic limits. Tom Sharpe Some city officials want to ban public nudity without abridging freedom of expression in a town known for pushing artistic limits.
Mayor David Coss and three city councilors began looking at how to amend Santa Fe's indecent-exposure ordinance after activists rode through town partially nude June 19 as part of a national protest against oil dependence. New Mexico's leg of the World Naked Bike Ride was moved from Albuquerque to Santa Fe because organizers feared Albuquerque's more stringent municipal laws might cause riders to be arrested. The event featured 19 cyclists in various states of undress — with one woman topless except for body paint and one man nude except for a sock over his genitals — who rode from the state Department of Transportation headquarters on Cerrillos Road, circled the Plaza and ended up at the state Capitol.
Afterward, Coss said, he got nearly 20 telephone calls from locals who said they were offended by the display or objected to their children or grandchildren being exposed to it. Coss said he asked the City Attorney's Office to draft an ordinance similar to Albuquerque's "because I'm not eager to promote the naked bike ride as an annual event in Santa Fe.
In December , anti-fur protesters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals threatened to take off all their clothes on the Plaza. After city police threatened arrests, female protesters settled for wearing panties and body paint to their chilly protest. But two years ago, when members of the Raelian movement urged women to go topless in public as part of a nationwide protest of what it said was the hypocrisy of allowing men to go topless, but not women, then-City Attorney Frank Katz said he could find no city ordinance to prevent it.
Katz said city law bans topless waitresses and dancers in places that serve alcohol, toplessness that disturbs the peace and exposure of "stuff south of the waistline. The protest resulted in only one woman exposing her breasts. At its first hearing on Tuesday, the Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval. The new ordinance would continue the ban on "the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering.
It also would ban engaging in sexual intercourse, appearing in a state of nudity or fondling genitals in public. However, it exempts "forms of expression and the communications of ideas, such as theatrical appearances" — an attempt, Coss said, to allow for artistic expression.
Assistant City Attorney Marcos Martinez, who drafted the amended ordinance, said it mirrors those of cities where such laws have been upheld by the U. Supreme Court. During a Monday passing-of-the-pencil ceremony on the Plaza to welcome the city's new poet laureate, "a gentleman came up and said, 'I know you've got 20 calls against it nudity.
I just want to say I'm for it,' " Coss said. It kind of diminishes it if you have to choose whether your kids are going to see that or not. Contact Tom Sharpe at or tsharpe sfnewmexican. Up. Log In. Purchase a Subscription. We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content. We hope that you enjoy our free content. Edit Close. Toggle Menu. Welcome, Guest. Up Log In. Dashboard Logout. Home News Local News. It's not the first time officials here have sought to deal with issues involving public nudity. No councilors have expressed reservations so far, but Coss said he expects opposition.
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